Physicists find best way for insects to avoid collisions when jumping


froghopper

A froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata) mid-hop

Avalon/Photoshot License/Alamy

A mathematical solution to a biological puzzle that may not really exist might prove useful for designing hopping rovers for space exploration.

Alberto Vailati at the University of Milan, Italy, normally researches the physics of fluid dynamics. However, about 10 years ago, after noticing jumping insects on a holiday, he was intrigued to read some lab studies in which insects, including fruit fly larvae, gall midge larvae and froghoppers, had all been seen leaping with an average take-off angle of about 60 degrees.

The idea that many different types of insects should …



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